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  #1  
Old 03-24-2003, 09:32 PM
Jim B. Jim B. is offline
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Did Ronald Reagan Really Support Apartheid in South Africa?

Is it true that Ronald Reagan as president (1981-1989) supported the racist Apartheid policy of South Africa at the time? It seems so hard to believe, since Reagan is such a figure-head not only to white, but to black conservatives now. Here are some cites that I found:

From this cite, we have:
Quote:
Foreign relations turned sour when Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan began to experience public pressure to impose sanctions on South Africa....In 1986, the US Congress, over President Reagan's veto, passed a Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, terminating air links, much importation, and new investments and loans.
From this cite, we have:
Quote:
“Your president is the pits as far as blacks are concerned. I think the West, for my part, can go to hell.” - Desmond Tutu, after U.S. President Ronald Reagan on July 22, 1986, called proposed sanctions against South Africa a “historic act of folly.”
You will have to forgive the strong language on that last one, but I am only using what came up with the search engine.

This cite compares the differences between the sanctions against Apartheid and the U.S.'s sanctions against Cuba today. You can read the part about Reagan supporting Apartheid in the opening 2 paragraphs:
Quote:
Public pressure was such that even the U.S. congress felt compelled to join this international movement despite President Ronald Reagan's veto. Let us now look at the vast differences between the situation in Cuba today and South Africa under apartheid, etc.
So it's true. Ronald Reagan did support Apartheid. What reasons did he give? Was he really supporting just the government of South Africa and not racism? Or did he think he could get the government out by other means than outright sanctions? Does anyone know the answers to these questions?


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  #2  
Old 03-24-2003, 09:50 PM
Brutus Brutus is offline
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Re: Did Ronald Reagan Really Support Apartheid in South Africa?

Reagan was not supportive of Apartheid. He was, however, oppossed to communism. South Africa was a powerful bulwark against the various communist groups running around southern Africa at the time.
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Old 03-24-2003, 10:05 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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Orval Faubus and George Wallace were not supportive of Segregation. They were, however, opposed to communism. The Klan was a powerful bulwark against the various communist (i.e. "Civil Rights") groups running around the southern United States at that time.
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Old 03-24-2003, 10:13 PM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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Re: Re: Did Ronald Reagan Really Support Apartheid in South Africa?

Quote:
Originally posted by Brutus
Reagan was not supportive of Apartheid. He was, however, oppossed to communism. South Africa was a powerful bulwark against the various communist groups running around southern Africa at the time.
Prove it.
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  #5  
Old 03-24-2003, 10:18 PM
Apos Apos is offline
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Not being for sanctions is not the same thing as being for apartheid. People have legitimate arguments as to why sanctions can actually be counter-productive: after all, I make that argument all the time in terms of Iraq, China, and Cuba. Pouring in American products and culture and prosperity in general can be far more destabilizing than trapping people in with only their regime to speak to and "comfort" them.
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  #6  
Old 03-24-2003, 10:27 PM
Weird_AL_Einstein Weird_AL_Einstein is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Apos
Not being for sanctions is not the same thing as being for apartheid.
Indeed. Just as being opposed to the sanctions on Iraq, as many people were before the war buid-up started, did not mean they supported Saddam Hussein. All the quotes in the OP concern Reagan's opposition to sanctions. If you think Reagan actually, literally supported the apartheid regime, you prove it.
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  #7  
Old 03-24-2003, 10:31 PM
cmkeller cmkeller is offline
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I think the main issue for Reagan was that the African National Congress, Nelson Mandela's group, was very much a Marxist and terrorist organization. Reagan was against both Marxists and terrorists, and as such, refused to support Mandela or his group despite the nastiness of Apartheid.
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  #8  
Old 03-24-2003, 10:34 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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That's true, Apos, but Reagan spoke favorably of the S.A. government and their "resistance" to communism. He did not simply say that sanctions were not the way to effect change, he clearly indicated that he saw no need for change. (Just as he generally lied about the black experience in the U.S. in order to justify his opposition to government "interference" in racial relations in the U.S.)

I doubt that Reagan was a Faubus-variety racist.
However, he was generally hostile to any efforts to do anything that might appear "Left wing" in nature--and he did nothing offer assistance to any black group on any level while he was in office.
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  #9  
Old 03-24-2003, 10:39 PM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is offline
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Oh yes, he did

The phrase that the Reagan administration used was, "Constructive Engagement" towards South Africa.

More generally, whether sanctions work should be considered on a case-by-case basis, IMO.

In certain countries, freer trade can encourage decentralizing forces in a centrally planned economy: examples might be China and Cuba.

It is difficult to see how this argument could have applied to South Africa in the 1990s: the apartheid regime put up few barriers to American culture at the time, and it would be straightforward to exclude books and the like from a sanctions regime.

Furthermore, it is difficult to see how the rock band Queen performing in Sun City could be a destabilizing force in Pretoria, for example.

[A particularly effective form of sanctions might have been to divest certain central banks of their gold reserves, btw. That effort was never attempted.]

Here's a link for the OP:
http://www.ksgcase.harvard.edu/case.htm?PID=970
"At issue is the question of whether quiet diplomacy undertaken in the name of incremental change and the avoidance of bloodshed operate, instead, as a tacit endorsement of a repressive regime which will then lack motivation to change. "

Here's a history:
http://nsarchive.chadwyck.com/saintro.htm
"Throughout his tenure, President Reagan studiously avoided criticizing the South African government, repeatedly praising the Botha Administration for making substantial reforms despite the overwhelming evidence of the continued and extensive exploitation and oppression of the black majority in South Africa. He has directly and openly embraced the Botha Administration as "an ally and friend," ..."
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  #10  
Old 03-24-2003, 10:46 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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Plus, the feeling was, South Africa was an ally. Why stir up trouble with them by pressuring them about internal matters, especially because they were fighting the Communists in Angola.

Besides, there was the fear that if Apartheid was gotten rid of, South Africa would be another Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe wasn't really pro-US.
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  #11  
Old 03-24-2003, 10:49 PM
Pencil Pusher Pencil Pusher is offline
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According to the Guardian, the US used its UN veto to block opposition to Apartheid every year from 1979 to 1984, and again in 1986.
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  #12  
Old 03-24-2003, 11:23 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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I don't think there's any question that the United States has supported and funded a great many dictatorships and tyrannies in support of its own interests, and South Africa - a country that back then could reasonably be described as a criminal state every bit as evil and substantially more dangerous than Iraq is today - was the worst of a bad lot. Nor is there any doubt that the USA was the enemy of some democratically elected governments.

So... Guinastasia, do you think Jimmy Carter supported apartheid? After all, the U.S. under his administration was a friend of South Africa. I mean, why stop at Reagan? There's no dividing line at January 20, 1981 when the U.S. suddenly started trade with the Afrikaaners.

Frankly, no civilized nation should have even recognized South Africa as a legitimate country or entertained the servants of its evil regime as diplomats. But the West supported a lot of odious regimes, and still does. However, that doesn't mean Reagan supported apartheid any more than Saint Jimmy Carter, the Nobel laureate, supported murder, despite the fact that Carter happily gave aid and comfort to some of the most homicidal tyrants on the face of the Earth. Look up the Shah of Iran sometime, a guy who got lots of aid from Carter. It's just that they figured, well, it's the lesser of two evils to support (Tyrant) to oppose Communism. In a lot of cases, they may well have been terribly wrong.
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  #13  
Old 03-25-2003, 03:02 AM
London_Calling London_Calling is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pencil Pusher
According to the Guardian, the US used its UN veto to block opposition to Apartheid every year from 1979 to 1984, and again in 1986.
Sacre blue! Ce n'est pas possible?
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  #14  
Old 03-25-2003, 07:30 AM
bayonet1976 bayonet1976 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by London_Calling
Sacre blue! Ce n'est pas possible?
Indeed. And in every vote the US was joined by the UK. But paradoxically, or perhaps not, the US, UK, and France also vetoed the representation of South Africa in the UN (1974). I guess it goes to show that nothings is ever black and white.
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  #15  
Old 03-25-2003, 07:46 AM
London_Calling London_Calling is offline
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I think it was only a couple of weeks ago I heard mention of the mad bat Thatcher changing her mind on Mandela – well, at least as much as she’s ever likely to change her mind. It was a report of what she’d said in an interview .. something along the lines of : “ … well, we’re (sic) not as opposed to him now because it’s all worked out so terribly well for the people … “ Poor old bird’s lost her pyjama’s, always had in my view.

Of course the geo-politics of the region, the strategic importance of SA and the Cold War / ANC communist thing didn't help but thems were ugly days ...

To answer the OP, SA was either racist or (seemingly) communist at that time. And it was the most powerful nation in Africa. Choices, choices ...
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  #16  
Old 03-25-2003, 10:58 AM
Shodan Shodan is offline
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Quote:
He did not simply say that sanctions were not the way to effect change, he clearly indicated that he saw no need for change.
Cite, please.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #17  
Old 03-25-2003, 11:07 AM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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I didn't say anything of the sort, RickJay. All I did was ask Brutus to PROVE that the SA Apartheid regime was worth it to prevent communism.
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  #18  
Old 03-25-2003, 11:17 AM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Guinastasia
I didn't say anything of the sort, RickJay. All I did was ask Brutus to PROVE that the SA Apartheid regime was worth it to prevent communism.
How would you prove that? That's a value statement, not a factual one, and would be based on your beliefs on the relative evils of the two systems.
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  #19  
Old 03-25-2003, 11:39 AM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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Okay, let me rephrase that. How about Brutus offer us a cite, to better explain his views?

And still, why bring up Carter?
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  #20  
Old 03-25-2003, 11:54 AM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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Probably because the US during the Carter administration vetoed a UN resolution condemning SA for apartheid and calling on sanctions, and that really, US policy towards South Africa during the Carter years was similar to US policy towards South Africa during the Reagan years.
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Old 03-25-2003, 01:49 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Guinastasia
I didn't say anything of the sort, RickJay. All I did was ask Brutus to PROVE that the SA Apartheid regime was worth it to prevent communism.
I know you didn't say it; I was simply using Carter as a contrast to illustrate that it's a phony charge against Reagan. I wasn't trying to single you out, but you've expressed admiration for Carter and his (largely fictional) emphasis on human rights in foreign rlelations before, so I used him as an example. Logically, if you can charge Reagan with supporting apartheid, you can charge Carter with supporting murder.

My point is that it's silly to charge REAGAN, in particular, with supporting apartheid. He didn't do anything Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson et al. didn't do. Carter was just the most different counterexample I could come up with.
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  #22  
Old 03-25-2003, 01:58 PM
MC Master of Ceremonies MC Master of Ceremonies is offline
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The US did at various times tacitly support the appartheid regime, for example when Jamacia sent troops to fight with Mozambique against the appartheid regime, contrary the wishes of the US, they lost all their economic aid. Of course there was an element of anti-communism in this too as Cuba also sent troops as well.
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  #23  
Old 03-25-2003, 02:17 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Quote:
Cite, please.
He clearly indicated his belief that they had no need to change by carefully refraining from even the most restrained criticism of their treatment of their citizens. In fact, he went so far as to claim that they were already doing what they needed to:
Quote:
8/24/85
President Reagan tells an interviewer that the "reformist administration" of South African president P.W. Botha has made significant progress on the racial front. "They have eliminated the segregation that we once had in our own country," says the President, "the type of thing where hotels and restaurants and places of entertainment and so forth were segregated - that has all been eliminated."
http://www.quickchange.com/reagan/1985.html

(When challenged on his lie, he admitted he might have spoken "carelessly.")
Time article

His "constructive engagement" was different than Carter's in several ways. While Carter had blocked the U.N. resolution calling for boycott, Carter had imposed several restrictions on South Africa, including the suspension of weapons shipments to the police units that had engaged in most of the terror activities against the blacks of the townships--an order that Reagan reversed upon taking office.

Shortly after his claim that they had "eliminated" segregation, Reagan did impose sanctions by executive order. However, the sanctions imposed were less than those to be imposed by a bill that had the support of both houses of Congress and was imposed to forestall passage of that bill. When, at the end of twelve months, it was clear that Reagan's administration had refused to actually implement the sanctions, the Congress passed the bill, overwhelmingly--even overriding his veto.
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  #24  
Old 03-25-2003, 03:40 PM
Shodan Shodan is offline
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Quote:
President Reagan tells an interviewer that the "reformist administration" of South African president P.W. Botha has made significant progress on the racial front.
No offense, tomndebb, but saying, "You have changed a lot" is significantly different from saying, "There is no need for you to change."

You accused Reagan of 'clearly indicating' that he felt there was no need for South Africa to move away from apartheid at all. This is untrue, as Reagan condemned apartheid directly.
Cite.

Certainly Reagan disagreed with many on how to pressure the South African government, preferring "active, constructive engagement" as has already been cited in this thread, but to state that Reagan saw no need to dismantle apartheid is false.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #25  
Old 03-25-2003, 04:05 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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You'll have to do better proving Reagan ever condemned apartheid since your link gives me a 404.

I never heard him condemn apartheid in nine years of campaign and residency in the White House. It would be interesting to see where he actually said it.
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  #26  
Old 03-25-2003, 04:07 PM
Brutus Brutus is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Guinastasia
Okay, let me rephrase that. How about Brutus offer us a cite, to better explain his views?

And still, why bring up Carter?
Well, I'll dig up some timeline or something later, but a cite seems superfluous. Rhodesia, Angola, and Mozambique all fell to marxists during the Carter administration, I believe. Of course it would have been an important policy objective to prevent South Africa from falling to marxists.
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  #27  
Old 03-25-2003, 06:45 PM
Governor Quinn Governor Quinn is offline
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In my analysis, Reagan only supported apartheid in the same sense that every other president of the US had since the start of apartheid in (I believe) 1948. In my noting of South African history, the ANC has always been supported by the South African Communist Party, and, with Cuban troops supporting the Angolans in battle, it was felt (unjustly, as history has shown) that the Communists would take over South Africa as well. Due to the continued failure of the center and left parties in South Africa in that time period (United, Progressive, Progressive Reform, Progressive Fedral, and New Republic) in taking over, it was a choice between the devil we knew(the Nationalists) and the devil we didn't (the ANC), and we picked the devil we knew.

That doesn't justify it, it just explains it.
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  #28  
Old 03-25-2003, 07:36 PM
Philosophocles Philosophocles is offline
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1. Where did Reagan announce his candidacy for the 1980 election?

2. What is that Mississippi town most famous for in American history?
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  #29  
Old 03-25-2003, 07:53 PM
Governor Quinn Governor Quinn is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Philosophocles
1. Where did Reagan announce his candidacy for the 1980 election?

2. What is that Mississippi town most famous for in American history?
Philadelphia, Mississippi, where 3 civil rights workers were murdered in 1964.

Who, when running for governor, mailed pictures to voters showing his opponent with black children?
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  #30  
Old 03-25-2003, 09:57 PM
zigaretten zigaretten is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Philosophocles
1. Where did Reagan announce his candidacy for the 1980 election?

2. What is that Mississippi town most famous for in American history?
1.....New York, NY

2.....New York isn't in Mississippi.
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  #31  
Old 03-26-2003, 03:06 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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Philosophocles, Governor Quinn. . . did you think we wouldn't check?
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  #32  
Old 03-26-2003, 07:24 AM
APB APB is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by tomndebb
I never heard him [Reagan] condemn apartheid in nine years of campaign and residency in the White House. It would be interesting to see where he actually said it.
His Executive Order 12532 declared that 'the policy and practice of apartheid are repugnant to the moral and political values of democratic and free societies'.

http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/resourc...985/90985b.htm
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  #33  
Old 03-26-2003, 08:22 AM
Shodan Shodan is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by tomndebb
You'll have to do better proving Reagan ever condemned apartheid since your link gives me a 404.

I never heard him condemn apartheid in nine years of campaign and residency in the White House. It would be interesting to see where he actually said it.
Sorry about the link - it's here.

Quote:
Reagan condemned apartheid and expressed concern over the increasing violence in South Africa in the executive order outlining his sanctions...(Emphasis added)
Quote:
"America's view of apartheid is simple and straightforward. We believe it is wrong. We condemn it." - Ronald Reagan, Sept 9, 1985.

Or see APB's link.

Certainly Reagan disagreed with many Democrats on how to pressure the South African government to dismantle apartheid, but the idea that he thought apartheid was a fine thing and didn't need to be changed is insupportable.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #34  
Old 03-26-2003, 08:25 AM
Governor Quinn Governor Quinn is offline
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Come to think of it, zig is correct. Philosophocles asked a leading question, and I took the bait.

(And, for the record, the answer to the question I asked in turn was Jimmy Carter, in the 1970 Democratic run-off for Governor of Georgia. Michael Barone mentioned it in his book "Our Country", of which I have a copy.)
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  #35  
Old 03-26-2003, 08:43 AM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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I will acknowledge that Reagan had words formally condemning apartheid published in his Executive Order. (All three links are directed to or paraphrases of his single EO document.)

I will also note that he only did so under the threat of a massive Congressional effort that he opposed, using the formal language of such documents.

His EO follwed by three weeks his claim that South Africa had "eliminated segregation" and one week before a scheduled vote in the Senate to impose the harsher restrictions that he opposed. I can find no reference to any remarks by him actually expressing personal rejection of apartheid and I'm afraid I remain unpersuaded by his single publication of a political statement that he actually cared about the issue.
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  #36  
Old 03-26-2003, 09:31 AM
Shodan Shodan is offline
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Well, tomndebb, if you aren't going to believe what he said in public, why should you believe what he said in private?

You said he never condemned it, and we have posted links showing that he did. Now you say that this is not enough, and you need us to prove that he "cared" about the issue. And, no matter what I dig up, you can claim that that isn't enough, either.

The answer to the OP is, no, Reagan did not support apartheid. He condemned it publicly, imposed sanctions against the regime that employed it, and differed from prominent liberals on what would be the best way to eliminate it. I suspect it is the last of these three that cause people to accuse him of supporting apartheid.

One way to put it is that Reagan supported apartheid in the same sense that those who opposed sanctions against Iraq supported Saddam Hussein, or those who oppose sanctions against Cuba support Fidel Castro.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #37  
Old 03-26-2003, 10:36 AM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Quote:
if you aren't going to believe what he said in public
Reagan never said it in public, which is my point. The Office of the President issued an Executive Order containing a standard objection to apartheid, written by some staffer.

There is nothing wrong with that; it is how EO's are issued.

However, the EO was a political move to prevent a political defeat in Congress and Reagan never backed it up with any other statements.
Quote:
One way to put it is that Reagan supported apartheid in the same sense that those who opposed sanctions against Iraq supported Saddam Hussein, or those who oppose sanctions against Cuba support Fidel Castro.
I do not assert that he supported apartheid, only that he did not care about it one way or another. (Of course, he did, indeed, reverse actions taken by Carter to pressure the de Klerk government to change their policies, his "constructive engagement" policy had no anti-apartheid carrots attached to them--just money to "fight communists," and he did claim that S.A. had already "eliminated segregation," and he did fail to enforce his own EO sanctions and stalled when called upon to enforce the sanctions that Congress eventually passed over his veto, so perhaps he did actually support apartheid, but that is not the claim that I make, which is that he never indicated opposition to apartheid.)
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  #38  
Old 03-26-2003, 12:54 PM
APB APB is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by tomndebb
He clearly indicated his belief that they had no need to change by carefully refraining from even the most restrained criticism of their treatment of their citizens. In fact, he went so far as to claim that they were already doing what they needed to:

' 8/24/85
President Reagan tells an interviewer that the "reformist administration" of South African president P.W. Botha has made significant progress on the racial front. "They have eliminated the segregation that we once had in our own country," says the President, "the type of thing where hotels and restaurants and places of entertainment and so forth were segregated - that has all been eliminated." '

http://www.quickchange.com/reagan/1985.html
This illustrates the danger of relying only on extracts. Those remarks were immediately preceded by the comment that, 'Our relationship with South Africa, which has always over the years been a friendly one -- we have made it plain, in spite of that, that apartheid is very repugnant to us and that they should go down the path of reform and bringing about a more perfect democracy in their country.' (emphasis added)

http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/resourc...985/82485c.htm

This might or might not be considered 'restrained', but it certainly qualifies as public, unscripted criticism from his own mouth.

Yes, it's a platitude, yes, it cost him nothing to say it and, yes, it's just what one would have expected him to say in the circumstances, but those are precisely the reasons is why it is so silly to have assumed that he won't at some point have made comments to that effect.
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  #39  
Old 03-26-2003, 03:47 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Thank you for the citation to an actual statement.
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  #40  
Old 03-26-2003, 06:38 PM
Governor Quinn Governor Quinn is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by tomndebb

(Of course, he did, indeed, reverse actions taken by Carter to pressure the de Klerk government to change their policies,
I presume you mean Botha. De Klerk didn't become President of South Africa until 1989, by which time Reagan was out of the White House.

In addition, Botha did make some changes to the system under his Presidency, such as abolishing the Pass and Mixed Marriage laws. The problem was that Botha was too unwilling to lose power in order to make any deep changes, such as the franchise. As it was, the reaction against these policies was notable enough. (The extreme-right Conservative Party, for example, won more seats in the 1985 and 1989 elections than the liberal Progressive Reform (Had I been a South African voter at that time, my pick for ruling the nation) Party, therefore being the offical opposition party.)
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